ALTER BRIDGE – Fortress

Alter Bridge - FortressWhen it comes to Alter Bridge, I’m kind of a late bloomer. I did know of their existence from hallo and a friend of mine gave a copy of their two first albums, One Day Remains (2004) and Blackbird (2007), but neither made any lasting impression on me and it wasn’t until they released their last album AB III (2010) the penny dropped. In all fairness, I must admit that I never really listened to the album with any intensity or interest – I mean, they were after all only Creed with a new singer and Creed weren’t anything other than Pearl Jam’s sloppy seconds! The reason I got into Alter Bridge at all is, of course, named Slash. The two songs on Slash’s first solo album that featured Alter Bridge master vocalist Myles Kennedy, “Back From Cali” and “Starlight” blew me right into next week. Not only were the songs great, Kennedy co-writes, he also had the vocal chords from Hell (or Heaven, depends on how you see it…) and that was enough to make me interested in Alter Bridge. Kennedy later toured with Slash as his lead vocalist and he has since then become Slash’s full-time vocalist and the couple have released Apocalyptic Love (2012) as Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, with a tour to follow. The other Alter Bridge members have had their hands full since the last album as well. Guitarist Mark Tremonti has released his solo album under the Tremonti moniker (which featured Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang on bass) and they have also reunited Creed for an album and a tour – only God knows why. What did I think of AB III then? Well, it’s a bloody awesome album, that’s for sure. I will give their two first albums another go as soon as I get five minutes, I have a feeling I’ll be missing out otherwise.

So now the band is back with another album and this time, they’re not even close to being underdogs anymore. The AB III album didn’t only sell like ice-cold Corona on a hot summer day, they also got some major raving reviews from both fans and music press. That’s why it feels kinda strange that the members themselves find the album not as strong as its predecessors and that the music is too mainstream. Well, it takes only one spin of their album to state that this “problem” has been fixed. But at first listen, I found this album somewhat disappointing. Not that it is bad by any means, it’s just that I had expected more. But damn those who give up after only one listen! The album is a grower, rest assured about that and I didn’t need more than one more spin to realise that this album is damn good. It’s also heavy, really heavy. This is metal, make no mistake. The album opens with “City Of Achillies” and its classical intro, but it soon bursts out like a fist on your jaw, probably the heaviest the band has ever been – the song almost adjoins to thrash metal – holy cow! “Addicted To Pain” follows and the heaviness remains, this time I hear old school metal influences and the tune is a complete winner, “Bleed It Dry” is another favourite, still heavy but more melodic and I hear references to their last album here, “Lover” is a damn hit – a ballad that gets heavier along the way and “Peace Is Broken” is ridiculously catchy and total Alter Bridge sounding. I truly love the metal riffing of “Calm The Fire” mixed with its catchy melody, “Farther Than The Sun” is brutal stuff, hard and aggressive metal, but still with a killer melody as a chaser and “All Ends Well” is a pop ballad with a heavy arrangement – this will be a single without a doubt and it’s a fair guess that it will become a big hit for the band. The album ends with the title track and this is the magnum opus of this record – and it’s the band’s masterpiece. It’s seven and half minutes of variation, heaviness combined with melody and darkness – if you want three-minute pop bagatelles, then look elsewhere. In fact, if it is, this album is not for you – Alter Bridge are more complex than that.

This album is a step away from the melodic catchiness that was AB III and is in many ways a risk. The songs aren’t all that direct and need more than just one or two listens, which has a tendency to scare off the most impatient “get to the chorus” listeners. But, albums like this are way more rewarding for us patient ones as they usually last longer than the average fast food for the ears Roxette kind of pop stuff. Come to think of it, these kind of albums will probably last forever. I only have one issue with this album – the production. Or maybe I should say the mixing. It’s sometimes almost annoying to listen to as the mastering is too loud and to escape all the treble, you need to turn up the bass real loud, which in turn can get a bit annoying too. But the songs, the arrangements and the performances here are flawless. I still hail AB III as the better album, but it feels so refreshing with a band that refuses to stand still and that constantly moves forward. Had I reviewed this after the first listen, I would have given this a 6/10, but my final rating will be higher than that, so if it doesn’t stick after the first spin, give another couple rounds. You’d be the happier for it.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

1. Cry of Achilles
2. Addicted to Pain
3. Bleed it Dry
4. Lover
5. The Uninvited
6. Peace is Broken
7. Calm the Fire
8. Waters Rising
9. Farther than the Sun
10. Cry a River
11. All Ends Well
12. Fortress

8 comments on “ALTER BRIDGE – Fortress

  1. “I mean, they were after all only Creed with a new singer and Creed weren’t anything other than Pearl Jam’s sloppy seconds!”

    You read my mind! That is exactly why I ignored Alter Bridge for years! And it was the Slash album that exposed me to the greatness that is Myles Kennedy. This guy is a real find.

    Reuniting as Creed must have made financial sense. But Scott Stapp is such a joke now. Well, he always was, but now he really is.

    Have you ever seen this?


    The Last Creed Fan on Earth

  2. I get your review.
    But I’m a first day Alter Btidge fan.
    And a huge, fid you get that ? HUGE fan of Myles before AB.

    Do yourself a couple favors. Look onto Mayfield Four, Zander then open up a little a look into Citizen Swing.

    These are treasures.

    I loved Alters first albums.
    Honestly III took getting used to.
    I can say I love every song of the first two. Play them over and over. Seen them played live.

    When the third album came, and the band talked about moving in new directions, I submitted and understood the end of my most precious find would come to an end. Myles was always working side projects and hen of course he has yo work with Slash. I mean drop everything. So the end was coming.

    There are awesome songs on III
    I can’t pick a favorite from the first two albums. I can off the third.

    I’m happy to add it to the collection and it might even be some if their best work.
    My wife’s favorite, on the softer side, is tattooed on a lot of girls; “Life Must Go On”. Always wondered how that never got constant radio, but Alter Bridge is a family and we are different. Myles voice is like the heavens calling us; like our master commanding us; and sends us into a bond that we don’t expect you to get.

    So the forth comes out. Lots of hope. So happy to have them together. Myles away from Slash. Nice guy and all, but whoring for him makes me violent.

    I didn’t accept the album at first listen.
    Sort of fixed on what was, is.
    I wanted 20 minutes notes like “Shed my Skin” but none found.

    But Myles has gotten stronger. I didn’t know that was possible. And “Waters Rising” isn’t without Myles eerie carries to the univers’ edge.

    Fortress is a master piece and my head is still heeling from smacking it against the wall listening to “Bleed It Dry.”

    Can’t say I love every song just yet.
    My hope is I grow up a become them, but for now I have 5 or 6 I’m grave rush about and like a rabid dog would defend them.

    But that’s and Altr Bridge fan. And we understand d this about each other.

    We get really angry with the Creed references. We kind feel Creed was a great band. A favorite in the nineties.
    But I see them as something they had to do to get here.

    So if you’re still trying to figure this out, you’ll either sell your soul, and the AB family will know this about you, or you’ll move on to forever repeat pointless words in a corner somewhere never understanding. And we just feel sad about that; but not really. We don’t need anyone’s permission. And certainly not yours.

    • Wow. This is what I call a comment. Awesome! It’s great to read stuff like this, so I bow my head to this.

      * As you read, I’m pretty new on Alter Bridge and it’s from that I write my review, so my references aren’t the same as yours.
      *I will definitely look into Zander, Mayfield Four and Citicen Swing. I love to discover new stuff.
      *As I wrote in the review, I’m on to checking out the to first AB albums once more.
      *I believe that Myles and Slash are a great combo and I’m pretty sure Myles isn’t whoring. The last Slash album is more a Slash / Myles album, as a duo, than a Slash solo one. Besides, Myles sings for a living and in this time and age, you really need more than one project to keep yourself floating if you want to be able to survive as a musician, especially if you have a family to support. So the whore references are unfair I think. And a bit scary if that is all it takes for you to become violent.
      *How can I not mention Creed in an Alter Bridge review? For real? AB are 3/4 of Creed. And why do you become angry about it? It’s impossible not mention Creed. Live with it.
      *I thought Creed sucked then and I still do. And I write what I think. therfore I write that I think Creed sucked.
      * Who said anything about permission? I don’t get the last piece of your comment at all. So, that said, I won’t sell my soul, I won’t repeat anthing and if my words are so pointless, why did you even bother to respond to this review?
      *Never underatanding? This is an album. By a band. This is music. What’s to understand? It’s either good or bad. Or decent. I write my opinions on pieces of music. I do that because I love music and I like to write.

      Thanx for taking the time to read and to respond.
      Cheers!

  3. To some it’s more than music. To some it’s the voice they wake up to. To some it’s the voice that carries them to places they fail at words to describe. To those of us that live our lives intensely, with a lot of passion and energy, well we might be Alter Bridge fans and we might get defensive. We protect our own, or what we hope to call our own.

    I’m not attacking you, your article, just an opinion. Alter has lived since day one as Creed with another singer and to us they aren’t even close to the same. Don’t get me wrong. I love Creed, and 15 years ago that what I listened to.
    I liked them. I liked all the bands of the time. Creed, or otherwise known as Alter Bridge with some other singer, were great, and still are.

    That they are 3/4 Creed is why I say Creed was something they had to do to get here.

    I don’t know that another Alter Bridge fan would agree with anything I’m saying, but I know enough of them that I’m pretty confident they do.

    I was talking metaphorically, but what I meant is you either get them, or you don’t. And if you don’t, then you just don’t. Maybe suggesting that person would sit in a corner salivating, just not getting it is more me just saying I don’t know how you don’t get it. But everyone is different.

    I’ve loved a lot of bands, from Elivis to Monk, from Kiss to Toots.
    As a guitar player myself, I have a variegated interest.

    Maybe Myles has to find other projects to feed the cats. Maybe he felt he could do awesome things with Slash. And he has done amazing things with Slash.
    But I can’t think of the last time Slash’s name came to mind before Myles. That the album is Slash and…. is what kills me.
    Slash is a great guitar. But second fiddle infuriates me. If that’s scary; that I would get that upset, well I guess it is. But like I said it isn’t just some noise in the background for me. And anyone Myles plays with should should be thankful. Mule, to Big Wreck to the tons of side projects he’s done. They are all master pieces IMO.

    I’ll go little kid here and say it should be Myles entertaining Slash and some those other guys.
    But I get punchy about things.

    I don’t know if I’ve given clarity to what I first said. I thought your article was fair, but typical in ways. The Creed reference, the there but for fortune go Slash with Myles.

    I stand by my words. And except that I wish them huge success, I secretly hope they stay unobserved so I can selfishly get first row GA tickets at small venues. But I think those days are numbered. And I love the new album.

    • You know what, I’m all for loving your music with passion and intensity, that’s how I feel about many of my favourite bands as well. And I get the defensive part, I really do, because I defend the bands I love tooth and nail, but at the end of the day all it comes down to is that it’s just a matter of different taste.

      I’m not sure if I’m one of those who doesn’t get Alter Bridge, but I sure do like the band, but as I said, they are a pretty new experience to me and that’s my substratum for writing this review.

      Yes, you’ve given clarity and I get your way of thinking a bit more, so thanx for that.
      And speaking of tickets, Alter Bridge plays Stockholm on Tuesday, they sold out really fast and I didn’t get tickets. That’s a bummer.

      • To add just one more foot note.
        Like I mentioned earlier. Listen to Mayfield Four. And for a much Jazzier Blusey experience, I don’t know how you’ll even get the music, listen to Myles as Singer Guitar for Citizen Swing.
        He was a kid for gods sake and yet …,, the song “All The Same” is a real need to listen to. At least twice and its teeth will find you.

        Myles IM not so HO is the best guitar on stage. If you hear him, I’ll ask any knowledgable guitarist to put him up against the likes of Slash or Mark.
        Again, don’t get me wrong. I can only dream of expressing myself remotely close to anyone them and I stand in awe at all their abilities. But in my ear Myles is clearly a talent rarely mentioned because his 5 octave vocal tidal wave of amazing always get first notice.

        I had to go on. Could you expect less from the fully endoctrinated and conformed.

        Being in love with every song on the first two albums( and do yourself a HUGE favor ) all AB fans know this. There is a track released on a movie sound track called “Save Me” off Elektra. Very cool with Mark keeping time and hammering the rythem. But Myles at one point belts out a note 20 seconds long. After 10 you’d think it would drop off, but he takes it higher. No one should make up any opinions without having heard this a couple times.
        Every alter bridge song slowly sinks in. And it isn’t until it’s too late when you realize (American) what’s hit you. If this doesn’t make you one of us, then it really isn’t for you. ) but they started with a lot of emotion. And Myles communicates that in every song. He sings differently now. Maybe stronger. But it was more of an angelic sound. I think the first two albums are complete master pieces. And probably why they feel the third wasn’t their best work or most noticeable. Or just confused. These guys know who they are.

        I didn’t mean to write this much.
        But like I hinted. Alter fans like that they are a hidden secret and something others don’t even know about. We’re selfish, except that we love them and want nothing but everything for them. But we see scared things will change. They already have. Myles is getting ready for another adventure with standing there singing for Slash when he should have a guitar in hand as well. Maybe the egos will get out of the way and he’ll let Myles pick one up. They might really create something then that would even excite me.

        A final over the top comment.
        I really didn’t believe in God until I found them. Ok even that makes me cringe.

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